Can You Use A Steam Mop on Laminate Floors? - Guideline For Homeowners On Laminate Floor Maintenance (2022)

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Can You Use A Steam Mop On Laminate Floors: Basic Laminate Floor Care Tutorial 2022

May 19, 2022
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Laminate floors have gained a lot of traction among homeowners as a substitute to hardwood floors. They are cheaper, more durable, while still offering the sought-after organic look of real wood.

Unfortunately, this flooring still has its own drawbacks. One of the most prominent issues that it’s got is its difficult maintenance process. You need to know the exact answers to questions like “Can you use a steam mop on laminate floors” to clean them safely and effectively.

Using a steam mop

In today’s issue, we’ll be answering the question “Can you use a steam mop on laminate floors”. The article can set the record straight on whether steam cleaning is appropriate for laminate floors or not (hint: it is!)

What Is Steam Cleaning?

A steam mop combines the two elements that dirt and bacteria absolutely hate: moisture and heat.

cleaning with steam in the room

When you track a steam mop across the floor, it’s going to blast heated steam at the floor. If this steam meets dirt, it’s going to easily dislodge them from the floor and allow you to wipe them away far more easily than with a normal mop. On the other hand, if it meets bacteria, the high heat of the steam is going to sanitize them.

This is the main reason why steam cleaning is regarded very highly among floor care professionals. You can mop and sanitize your floor all at the same time and usually in just one session!

Steam Cleaning Laminate Floors: Is It Safe?

The Problem with Steam Cleaning Laminate Floors

It’s quite unfortunate that steam cleaning doesn’t work on every kind of floor. Durable, heat and moisture-resistant flooring like porcelain tiles can go through a steam cleaning session without a problem. But softer, more sensitive materials like hardwood, vinyl, or laminate floors may not. When you apply heat and moisture to them, they could buck, warp, or wrinkle. Essentially, the flooring’s going to be ruined.

Is It Safe to Steam Clean Laminate Floors?

Steam cleaning laminate floors is a very contentious problem among floor care professionals. Some are going to tell you to absolutely avoid ever applying heat to the floor. But at the same time, there are many who are going to tell you that a mild steam clean doesn’t hurt the floor much. In fact, it may even be beneficial.

So, who to believe?

Our consensus leans further toward the “No” camp than the “Yes”.

Generally speaking, if you can absolutely avoid it, we would recommend that you not sanitize your laminate floor using steam. The floor is made up of many layers of sensitive protective coatings and wood fiber layers. They could be damaged by the potent combination of heat and moisture.

It’s very telling that no laminate floor manufacturer recommends the usage of steam cleaners on their floors.

However, that doesn’t mean steam cleaning laminate floors is 100% out of the question. It is still possible, though risky. We think that it wouldn’t really hurt for you to try to steam clean your floor if you fall into one of the cases below:

Your floor is no longer under warranty and you’re going to have to replace it soon anyway

You’re about to sell your house, so any damage incurred to the floor isn’t going to be a problem for you in the long-term

You want to try it out (despite the risks)

Why You Must Only Steam Clean Sealed Laminate Floors

Even if you fall into these three groups, there is one last thing in the checklist that you need to tick off. And that is whether your laminate floors are sealed or not.

Basically, there are two types of laminate floors: unsealed and sealed.

Sealing refers to the glossy, transparent layer of protective surface sealant that is applied to the top of the floorings. It protects the floorings from scratches and water. A sealed laminate floor already got the sealing applied to the top.

Take note of the glossy quality of the floor. That’s the top sealant

Take note of the glossy quality of the floor. That’s the top sealant

Meanwhile, an unsealed floor is basically composed of raw and naked wood fiber boards without any protection at all.

Wooden natural texture

You should only steam clean sealed laminate floors.

The sealing at the top is going to protect the more sensitive wood fiberboards underneath from being damaged by the moisture and heat. If you try to steam clean an unsealed floor, even if you got the best steam cleaner and follow the procedure down to a tee, the floor is still going to be damaged (often irreparably).

How to Check Whether Your Floor Is Sealed or Not

If you don’t know whether your laminate floors have been sealed or else, it’s pretty easy to check.

The easiest way is to simply get down close to the floor and take a long, hard look at it. If the floor is sealed, it should have a shiny and glossy look to it. That glossy layer is the top sealant.

In case you want to be extra sure, find a small, out-of-the-way spot on the floor (behind the couch, for example). Then, use a fork or a small knife to scrape lightly at the surface. If you see a clear coating coming off of the floor, then you know for certain that the floor is sealed.

Most laminate floors these days are installed with the surface sealed, so you usually don’t have to worry too much about this.

Can You Use Steam Mop on Laminate Floors? — How to Safely Steam Clean Laminate Floors?

If you absolutely have to steam clean your laminate floors, there are techniques that you can use. Note that you have to follow them to the letters, else, your beautiful floor would be put at risk.

Laminate floors, as we explained earlier, don’t take too well to heat and moisture. So, the trick is to try your very best to limit the exposure of the floor to the hot steam as much as you can.

In other words, imagine the floor is a white T-shirt and the steam cleaner is a hot clothing iron. If you leave it at one spot for too long, the iron is going to burn a hole through the shirt.

It’s just like that in this case. You should continuously be on the move. Make sure that you don’t dither for too long at one spot or the steam cleaner is going to burn up the floor.

professional home cleaning service

Additionally, do note that even if your laminate floors are sealed, they aren’t invincible. If you steam clean it far too often, the sealant is going to degrade and eventually break down. As a result, we recommend that you space out each steam cleaning session as far apart from another as possible. Around the order of once every 2 or 3 months. More, if you can manage it.

   ➜ RELATED:  Best Steam Mop for Vinyl Floors: Buying Guide & Best Product Reviews

Why You Need the Best Laminate Floor Cleaner Machines

Next, now that you got the technique down, let’s discuss hardware.

It’s not a good idea to just use any random steam cleaner on your laminate floor. Only the best laminate floor cleaner machines would do. Specifically, we’re looking for steam cleaners that:

  1. 1. Use very little moisture to mop the floor and don’t soak the surface
  2. 2. Produce as little heat as possible

It’s not easy to find a steam cleaner that can fulfill both of these requirements. Fortunately, our market analysts have found these models to meet the requirements well. Consider putting them on your shopping list if steam mopping laminate floors is something that you absolutely want to do.

Best Rated Steam Mop for Laminate Floors: Shark S5003D Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System Pocket Steam Mop

The Shark S5003D comes with a few special features that makes it a particularly good candidate as a laminate floor cleaner.

Shark S5003D

Shark S5003D Via: Amazon

First, it comes with a Steam Control system that allows you to adjust the strength of the steam flow. This is an extremely important function for a laminate floor steam mop. As we have mentioned earlier, the stronger the steam, the more likely it is for the steam mop to damage your floor. The Steam Control system gives you full control of the steam, ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

For cleaning laminate floors, you must dial the steam down to the lowest setting possible. The less heat applied to the floor’s surface, the better.

Next, we also like the absorbent Dirt Grip Pads that the S5003D comes with. As you track the mop across the floor, the pads are going to soak up all of the excess moisture. This can prevent water from seeping through the lamination and staining the sensitive wood fiberboards underneath. Additionally, they also grip onto tack-on dirt. You can scrub them away without having to apply too much steam onto them, reducing the chance of the steam mop damaging the floor.

Last but not least, we appreciate the Steam Blaster function. It’s a nozzle at the front of the mop that expels a concentrated wave of hot steam when you hit a trigger on the handle. While we don’t recommend that you use this function on laminate floors, it could be useful when you need to tackle stubborn dirt. Just make sure that you use it sparingly.

Overall design of the mop is sleek and light. Our reviewers also like its modern aesthetic.

Best Budget Steam Mop for Laminate Floors: Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner

The Shark S3501 is the company’s wallet-friendly offering. Compared to the S5003D, it is cheaper by almost half. However, most of the features that the more expensive model got are still there on the S3501.

Shark S3501

Shark S3501 Via: Amazon

Unfortunately, this model does not come with a Steam Control function. What you have, however, is a manual steam release. Whenever you need to add a bit of steam to the floor, you have to push down on the handle. Push back up and the mop will stop releasing steam.

Our testers rated the control to be a bit awkward. Nevertheless, with a little bit of practice, the push-up-push-down motion will become second nature in no time.

In case you’re worried about whether the lack of a Steam Control function would affect performance on laminate floors, worry not! We have tested the unit on our stretch of laminate floors and found no visible damage.

Similar to the S5003D, the S3501 has a sleek and lightweight design. It’s highly maneuverable as well as easy to use. All you basically have to do is fill the water tank and plug it in to begin cleaning.

Best Premium Steam Mop for Laminate Floors: POLTI Vaporetto Smart 100

In case you need the best steam mop that money can buy, the POLTI Vaporetto Smart 100 is a great option. Although it certainly costs a few pretty pennies, ultimately, it’s well worth the investment when you take into account what it can do.

POLTI Vaporetto Smart 100

POLTI Vaporetto Smart 100 Via: Amazon

Compared to the other Shark steam mops on this list, the POLTI Vaporetto is larger, more powerful, and has significantly more control features. The large water tank inside the mop can hold 67.6 fluid ounces. After powering on the system, the boiler takes around 2 minutes to heat the water inside the tank into steam.

But the best thing about the Vaporetto, in our view, is the robust steam control system. Depending on the surface you’re cleaning, you can adjust the steam flow from high to low. You can also attach a variety of different accessories to the steam mop to enhance its functionality, as well.

We’ve found the Vaporetto’s low steam mop to work very well on our sealed laminate floors. After a quick steam mopping session, we detected no damage to the floorings.

Among the very few downsides of this best mop for vinyl floors and laminate floors is that it is a bit cumbersome. The design takes after a canister vacuum and, by itself, already weighs a hefty 18 pounds. When filled with water, the canister is going to weigh a lot more.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem since the canister is going to lay on the floor most of the time. When you have to move it around, you can tug on it using the hose and it’s going to wheel behind you. The problem comes in when you have to pick it up (to bring up the stairs, for example).

Other than that, if you need a high-performance, pro-grade steam mop, we’re quite confident that the Vaporetto is up to the task.

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, can you use a steam mop on laminate floors?

Yes, but with a few caveats attached. There’s no doubt that it’s a risky procedure that can result in a repair bill. Nevertheless, some people may find the benefits of steam cleaning to outweigh the risks. If you’re part of this group, hopefully, this guide has been helpful for you!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 01. Is There a Way to Test If Your Laminate Floors Can Be Steam Cleaned or Not?
  • Yes! There’s a very simple trick that you can use to quickly determine if it’s safe to steam clean your laminate floors with a steam mop or not.

    After you receive your steam mop, find a hidden spot on the floor that nobody would see normally (underneath or behind the couch, for example). You can experiment there and even if the floor is damaged, since it’s out of the way, it shouldn’t affect the overall aesthetic of your house very much.

    Start with a brief steam cleaning session. Run the steam mop back and forth on that stretch of floor and see if it’s damaged. If your floor is fine, congratulations! You can fully commit to steam cleaning the floors.

    Cleaning the floor with a dry steam cleaner

  • 02. Can You Use a Steam Mop on Laminate Floors If It’s Unsealed? What Would the Damages Be?
  • Unsealed laminate floors don’t have a clear protective coating at the top to protect them from the heat and moisture of the steam mop. So, the moment you place your steam mop onto the floor, it’s going to suffer an extensive list of damages.

    You’re going to see dark water stains setting into the wood fiber boards as they soak the water in. Then, under the heat, the board is going to warp and wrinkle up.

    If this was to happen to your floor, there’s really no way to “repair” it. You will have to replace every segment of the floor that’s damaged, which is why we recommend exercising caution before you steam mop your floor. Be 100% certain that your floor is sealed up.

  • 03. Can I Use a Steam Mop on Laminate Floors to Clean Pet Urine?
  • This is one of the most common questions that we got from our readers. The reasoning behind it is logical: heat could neutralize odorous bacteria and the mop can help clean up the oily, stinky liquid.

    In reality, while steam cleaning can neutralize urine stains, you have to do pre-treatment first. Don’t use your steam cleaner right away. Else, you’re going to permanently set the stain into the floor.

    The first step of the process is to soak up as much urine as possible using paper towels or old newspapers. Use as much paper as you need until the spot becomes reasonably dry.

    Then, you’re going to need to use a bottle of enzymatic cleaner. The cleaner contains bacteria that eats up the ammonia within the urine, effectively neutralizing the odor. After you set the cleaner, allow it to dry for an hour or two.

    Once it does, proceed to vacuum the floor briefly to remove all of the dirt and debris in the area. Take out your steam cleaner and fill it with the enzymatic cleaner solution (read the manufacturer’s instructions to know the proportion). Clean the floor with it.

  • 04. Does the Warranty of the Steam Mop Covers Damage Done to the Floor If It Was to Happen?
  • Unfortunately, no. If you use a steam mop and it damages your floor, the manufacturer of the mop won’t cover the damage. Read the small warranty booklet that comes with any steam mop and you’ll find that they cover the expenses when the mop itself has any manufacturing defect.

    If your floor is damaged because of the mop, they’re going to pin the responsibility on you. So, think carefully before you try to steam clean laminate floors.

  • 05. How to Clean Laminate Floors Without Leaving a Film?
  • One of the most infamous problems with laminate floors is that they are very prone to streaking. These are hazy marks on the floor that, if not dealt with, can greatly affect the natural look of the floor.

    Our solution involves the use of white vinegar. In a spray bottle, mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar together. Shake the bottle so all of the chemicals come together.

    Spray a bit on the floor and mop with a microfiber mop.

    The vinegar solution can help you sanitize and deodorize your floor, while leaving minimal to no streaking.

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